Jaime Grant is a veteran leader seeding, fueling, and supporting movements for justice.
“Same work. Same work as always, different frame.”
Jaime is currently Executive Director of Kalamazoo College’s Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership. Currently, alongside her work at Kalamazoo College, she is working on spreading her findings from her recently released study with Jack Harrison and Jody Herman, “A Gender Not Listed Here: Genderqueers, Gender Rebels, and OtherWise in the National Transgender Discrimination Survey.” The study spotlights the unique demographic patterns for genderqueer respondents in the landmark 2008 National Transgender Discrimination Survey. The breakthrough study revealed that gender variant respondents suffer significant impacts of anti-transgender bias and in some cases are at higher risk for discrimination and violence than their transgender counterparts.
Everywhere she’s been, Jaime’s been “connecting her story to a tradition of resistance work.” Ultimately, her work is “about seeding, fueling, and supporting movements for justice, and especially those people who have been impacted by the injustice and helping them come to the forefront to and lead the way out and be the architects of change, not either the instruments or the sidebar.”
Inspirations and Influences: Barbara Smith
I found my work through looking at the writings by radical women of color that were coming together, such as Barbara Smith’s “Kitchen Table Women of Color Press” and Cherie Moraga’s This Bridge Called My Back.
I met Barbara in person for the first time when I was doing research on these murders that had happened in the ‘70s in Boston – 13 black women were murdered in four months within a three mile radius, all in contiguous neighborhoods. There was not a blip on the front pages of the papers about it. They were all seen as “unrelated” and interpersonal. Barbara said to me really something that changed my life; “Kitchen Table doesn’t publish white women, but if we did I would publish this article.” When I heard that, I thought, “This could be my work.”
That began relationship with her that changed my life and changed my activist trajectory, because I could see that there was a way to do this work as an Irish woman, to maintain my ties to my people, and to claim part of that history there, too. She had found – and what my paper found – was a bunch of Irish women working in Boston who were doing anti-racist work at the time of desegregation. Of course, they don’t get covered on the news, those models are not supported or lifted up, but I could see them.
“Sustainability is not a selfish enterprise. It’s a communal enterprise for all of us, and each of us.”
Field of Work: Social Justice, Human Rights, LGBT Justice
Kalamazoo College Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership https://reason.kzoo.edu/csjl/about/staff/
Studies from The Task Force
Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey
A Gender Not Listed Here: Genderqueers, Gender Rebels, and OtherWise in the National Transgender Discrimination Survey
Wisdom: Self-care, Authenticity & Community
In social justice work we have to create the libratory spaces together. If it’s not and our people are waking up and they’re sick about coming to work because they’re so oppressed by whatever conditions we’ve created for them, something’s wrong, and I want to be accountable.
In the places that I have been able to create those terms, and create the container for us to do our work together, I’ve had such great joy. At the end of the day, you look at different projects and you say, “Well, that was a success,” or “We didn’t get as far as we wanted.” But more importantly to me is how we are relating to each other in the day-to-day. You can’t always control winning the campaign or whatever, but you can control what kind of space you’re creating for people and yourself. My tired line is, “bring yourself to work” and I mean, to bring your whole self to bear on the work. Then, “let’s figure out how to do that together.”
I’ve been clean for 21 years and have an incredible family and a partner I adore in a relationship I love, that’s very challenging. I’ve got two kids that I freaking adore. I’m not here to liberate everybody but myself–I want to live the liberation. Making sure you’re paying attention to that every step of the way is very important. Sustainability is not a selfish enterprise. It’s a communal enterprise for all of us, and each of us.